Magazine article Insight on the News

Outside of Sex, `Choice' Is Dirty Word for Liberals

Magazine article Insight on the News

Outside of Sex, `Choice' Is Dirty Word for Liberals

Article excerpt

Liberals believe in choice on issues related to sexuality -- abortion, pornography and euphemistically designated "lifestyles." Everywhere else, they are committed to denying options, foreclosing possibilities and deterring dissent.

In mid-June, the latest federal education bill went to conference committee after President George W. Bush's plan for school choice was jettisoned.

The president's proposal was modest -- 10 school districts in three states were to be allowed to funnel federal dollars directly to low-income students in hopelessly failing schools to be used for private education. Senators rejected this by a vote of 58-41. "It sounds so good, but it has a number of serious flaws" intoned Sen. Hillary Rodham ("I-sent-my-kid-to-prep-school-that's -how-she-got-into-Stanford-and-tough-about-yours") Clinton, D-N.Y.

School choice is popular for good reason. The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress found that almost one-third of fourth-graders can't read. Among black and Hispanic students, that number rises to 63 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

Congress refuses even to experiment with vouchers. Inner-city parents who want alternatives are told to sit in the corner and wait for things to get better while their children are educated for minimum-wage jobs.

Promoting another Bush initiative, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill was in New York City on June 18 addressing a group of investment executives on the need for Social Security reform. The White House plans to put forth a proposal to allow young workers to invest some of their Social Security taxes in private investment accounts.

This has the keepers of Franklin D. Roosevelt's flame sputtering. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka is urging union pension managers to boycott investment firms that support reform. To prove their faith in Social Security, you'd think union honchos would give their pension money to Washington to invest in the mythical trust fund. Then again, dogmatic isn't synonymous with stupid.

According to the Social Security trustees' 2001 report, the system will go into the red in 2016. By 2039, the deficit could reach $300 billion. To restore equilibrium, Washington will be forced to cut benefits by one-third or raise taxes 50 percent.

Even if the system remains solvent, baby boomers can expect a return of less than 2 percent on their forced investment, generation Xers less than 1 percent. …

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